arts and crafts

I found this amazing (and amazingly delicate) ribbon dress at a Cincinnati thrift store this fall. It was stained in a dozen spots across the bodice, but I bought it anyway, thinking "eh, cold water and oxiclean shouldn't be too traumatic". The stains are (mostly) removed, but in the process, this amazing ribbon fabric incurred some damage. The ribbons are woven together to create the overlay atop the satin lining, and they're fairly brittle, so the price of stain removal was some unraveling of the top layer.
My tailor refused to touch it- "that's too delicate for me to fix", he said. So I sat down with some blue thread this week and closed the gaps in the fabric with some minimal bunching- but I don't have much hope that those fixes are permanent. I'm half-expecting this dress to disintegrate off my body while I'm wearing it.
But: those stains aren't entirely eradicated. There are some brownish spots across the chest, and I know it can't stand up to a dry-cleaning (as the drycleaner, like the tailor, refused to touch it). I'm considering dyeing the dress a deeper shade of blue in the hopes it will cover the stains, but I'm not fully confident that dyeing it won't eat the ribbon away and require a bigger, more complicated repair that I'm not up to.
Should I take the chance on a bottle of true-blue dye? Or wear it as-is and hope that no one notices the browish stain positioned awkwardly in the nipple area? Or resign this dress to living under cardigans for the rest of its days?


The Domina said...

What is the ribbon fabric made out of? You can probably very gently touch it with a Q-tip dipped in a solution, the solution just depends on what the fabric is made out of....I think if you dyed it, the ribbon and the satin would take the dye up differently and it wouldn't look uniform...

nadarine said...

The fabric that you see is the ribbon overlay- it looks like someone took grosgrain ribbon and wove it into a gigantic piece of "cloth", which they used to sew this dress. The underlay, which you can't see, is a lavender satin. It's synthetic, so it wouldn't take the dye very well (if at all), but you can't really see the lavender lining through the ribbon.

I've dyed ribbon before without trouble, but I'm not 100% certain that this ribbon dress is made of grosgrain. Its texture has changed so much- the ribbon could be silk, or even synthetic.

SDJaxies said...

i wouldn't dye it, unless there's any way to take some of the ribbon off and test it first. i'd stick with cardigans and pretty jackets.
i love the dress, though. isn't that the bitch of vintage shopping? everything's so OLD.

The Domina said...

You could attempt a teeny tiny spot test with some watered down peroxide on a q-tip for the stain, but I would probably stick to a cute cropped cardigan to cover them. Good luck with whatever you decide!